Artwork, patios, light walk part of new design for $50M Nicollet Mall revamp

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New images of the tree-lined future for Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis have been revealed, as developers look to win over landlords who will foot half of a $50 million bill.

The team behind the street's revamp revealed new designs at a public forum Thursday, which the Star Tribune says highlighted several updates to initial plans, such as making the bus stops transparent after crime concerns were expressed about the initial, opaque walled design.

It is intended that $25 million of the project will be funded by Nicollet Mall building landlords, with the rest coming from a combination of Minneapolis Downtown Council ($21.5 million) and Minneapolis City Council ($3.5 million).

The revamp aims to make the street between South Grant Street and Washington Avenue more pedestrian friendly, by creating tree-lined walkways uninterrupted by restaurant patios, which will be moved further away from buildings, the Business Journal reports.

The centerpiece of the project will be Nicollet Mall Center, between Sixth and Eighth Street, which WCCO says will be transformed into a "Minneapolis-inspired destination that celebrates light, art and the four seasons."

This will see the creation of a "Light Walk," a trellised walkway with overhead LED lights and "mirrored fins" along the two-block stretch, according to the project website, while an "Art Walk" will see alternating stately trees and light masts with suspended lanterns.

KARE 11 says that the area will also have for seasonal activities, such as bocce ball, curling, ice sculptures or food tastings.

Business support - and concerns

The Star Tribune says the project generally has the support of building owners eager to boost foot traffic on the street, though notes they are anxious about how the costs will be met.

Kevin Lewis, of the Greater Minneapolis Building Owners & Managers Association, told the newspaper: "We hope the improvements they are suggesting in the design will ... make our properties more appealing. But we are very sensitive to the cost and the impact it would have on the tenants."

The Business Journal says that some restaurant owners are not overjoyed at the idea of having to move their patios away from their buildings.

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